Secrets to Living your Best Life

Thank you Maya Angelou
now gone to be universal ancestor
so glad you leave your words to guide
the people’s hearts away
from hate
to the very best they can be
to become empowered social participants
who see ancestors –
who were the rainbows in their clouds
who paved the way for the people
they would become.

They could not see who they would become
the music they would make
the poets they would foster
the roads they would build
the fields they would reap
the rise of their souls beyond –

the slavery that was theirs
and she says we need to name those
who were our origins
who were the rainbows
the foundation of who we would become
and listening to her wisdom
I name them:

she is Paisa in her village
racked with tuberculosis
and she sings of far off grandchild or bubu.
She never sees bubu when
bubu leaves Papua New Guinea’s shores.

He is a miner in England
struggling to make ends meet
I do not know his name
great grandfather striving –

so his children
can escape this life –

and in the future their worlds will join
and their descendants
will lead the world into

where rainbow families dance into
the light.

(c) June Perkins

Rainforest Writing Retreat

John Marsden and June Perkins

On the weekend I attended the Rainforest Writing Retreat organised by Charmaine Clancy and was blessed to meet author John Marsden.

What a humble and gracious human being, patiently signing books and answering the questions of fans. I wrote a creative piece from one of the writing exercises he gave us during the masterclass and volunteered to read it.

The exercise: ‘Write about a Rainforest without using the letter a.’ I had to describe a waterfall, rainforest, and a mountain climb without saying any of those words.

We had 5 minutes to write. I was so delighted that Mr Marsden liked my poem, and said it was publishable.

He encouraged me to stand up and read it loudly and confidently.

(More stories on the Rainforest Writing Retreat coming soon).


Master Class Role Play – Don’t use an s

CYA Conference – 10 Year Anniversary


CYA was; brilliant, entertaining, informative and educational.  I enjoyed catching up with talented artists and writers such as award winning Katrin Dreiling and Helene Magisson and listening to the amazing Morris Gleitzman.

I did my first ever in person pitches to editors and agents. They were friendly, constructive, and helpful. I’m going to be busy working with their advice now and a couple are keen to see some more work, when I am ready.  Thank you! Thank you!

The session I loved the most was definitely the Morris Gleitzman master class.  We had a total of three hours to learn from him.  He entertained us with stories, showing, and not telling, about his own writing journey as well as guiding us through some of his books.  These were so memorable (and often very funny) that I related one in the car on the way to an engagement party after the conference. He gave us insights into how he structures and builds a story, blends in exposition, and extensively drafts outlines of his novels before he begins to write – the technique is drawn from his television writing background. We even had a chance to ask a few questions at the end, and yes I jumped at the chance to ask one!

My daughter, who is fifteen, thought this was the most brilliant public speech she had been too, and was absolutely riveted.  She went to art character development sessions with Sarah Davis, which she absolutely loved and enjoyed spending the day with artist/illustrators.

Another inspiring session was the success stories from previous participants in the conference – I just loved these.  They were encouraging to all aspiring authors and illustrators to follow their dreams – and to have an international outlook with their work. I was so delighted to see Helene Magisson up there sharing her story.  She mentioned our upcoming project, Magic Fish Dreaming! with some excitement amongst her ongoing journey and I was so happy that such a brilliant illustrator is looking forward to our collaboration.

Jennifer Loake’s story was particularly inspiring, as she went from having her picture book story placed very lowly at the competition, to persevering with it, and editing it until it has been published.  And the idea behind her story was just something she always believed in and wouldn’t give up on! If you are thinking about a career in writing for children and young adults I highly reccomend attending this event, and entering their competitions. You receive feedback on your story and how to improve it.

I have begun sending a story I entered in it last year (and have been editing for 12 months) to publishers just a a few weeks ago – perhaps now I will find a publisher for it.

A big congratulations to Tina Clarke and the wonderful team of volunteers who were so warm, welcoming and helpful. A special mention to my writing buddy Dimity Powell who I met in person for the first time.  After attending the conference for years she decided to be a volunteer this year and add to everyone else’s experience, including things like giving me a pep talk before I went into do my publisher pitches – thanks Dimity!  Oh no I forgot to get a photograph of us together – another time maybe!

(c) June Perkins